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  1. Opinion

Prohibit drilling anywhere near Tampa Bay’s shores

Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.

Save our shores from drilling

Gulf drilling ban should be forever | Editorial, Sept. 17

Oil and water don’t mix. The same is true for oil spills and coastal businesses. Thankfully, Florida’s congressional delegation has voted to permanently protect our state from dangerous offshore oil drilling moving closer to our shore. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Naples, sponsored HR 205 — the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act — permanently extending the current moratorium prohibiting offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The legislation passed with bipartisan support — it was co-sponsored by 12 other Florida lawmakers from both parties — reflecting how the issue of offshore drilling cuts through the usual rancor of party lines; 26 out of 27 Florida House members voted yes.

Permanently protecting Florida’s Gulf coast from drilling is the only foolproof solution to safeguard our coastal economies and natural resources. Tourism is the Sunshine State’s leading industry with a record 126.1 million visitors coming to Florida last year, however, could quickly reverse course if Florida trades in its tourism for oil.

The Tampa Bay beaches are one of the many treasured vacation destinations that contribute to Florida’s soaring tourism economy. Vacationers come here expecting clean waters and white sand. They envision a relaxing sunset cruise, watching dolphin frolic. They enjoy the crisp gulf breeze while fishing for their favorite catch.

Gulf coast communities know what happens when oil companies drill — they spill. Communities throughout Florida are united in the desire to protect our economy and our homes from a lifetime of offshore oil drilling. Florida’s House delegation is of the same mind. They voted to put our coastal businesses and ocean resources above oil interests. We need our senators to follow suit and fight to make the current ban on offshore oil drilling permanent. It’s up to Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to be vocal and take Florida entirely off the table for offshore drilling.

Doug Izzo, St. Pete Beach

The writer, director of government affairs at the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, is writing on behalf of the group.

Favoring the environment

Gulf drilling ban should be forever | Editorial, Sept. 17

We Floridians want a clean, healthy environment, including U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, the Naples Republican who sponsored the Protecting and Securing Florida’s Coastline Act. It’s a reminder that not all Republicans are greedy polluters and that Rooney is an example of a Republican conservationist. Others who are trying to protect our environment include Gov. Ron DeSantis, who launched environmental initiatives immediately upon taking office; former Tampa state Sen. Dana Young, who authored and pushed through multiple Senate committees SB 442 in 2018 to protect Floridians from dangerous fracking; and former Pinellas state Rep. Kathleen Peters, who sponsored the companion fracking ban bill, HB 237. Our beautiful Sunshine State needs our protection, so we Floridians should make bipartisan efforts to save Florida from pollution’s devastation. The Florida Coastline Act is a good beginning.

Ginger Goepper, Treasure Island

Problems with this plan

DeSantis’ bold plan to raise teacher pay | Editorial, Oct. 9

Gov. Ron DeSantis announces his proposal for increasing teacher pay at Middleburg High in Clay County, during the first of three news conferences on Oct. 7, 2019. [ Florida Governor's Office ]

The governor’s plan to install a minimum pay of $47,500 is flawed with inequities. The most glaring is the definition of classroom teacher. This will exclude a great many educators who are not assigned a class. While teachers in their early years may be grateful that they will qualify for a large bump in salary, they certainly understand that their success as educators is possible because of the support provided by counselors, media tech people, coaches, varying exceptionalities resource teachers, speech language pathologists, school psychologists, social workers and support professionals, all of whom are excluded from this proposal.

Second, this plan lacks any acknowledgment or gratitude for our veteran teachers’ years of service. These teachers should be happy that their younger colleagues are earning a higher wage because it elevates our profession. However, it has taken them 12 years to earn a salary that a teacher right out of college would be earning under this plan. Is it unreasonable for these veteran teachers to expect some respect or gratitude for their service? This plan delivers neither.

Teachers are grateful that the governor is addressing one of the root causes of the teacher shortage. However, this plan leaves too many unanswered questions and needs some refinement. Would it be too much to ask that educators be included in decisions that impact education?

Mike Gandolfo, Palm Harbor

The writer is president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.

Paramedics saved my life

A medical emergency

Last weekend, my wife found me unconscious and breathing erratically. She tried to revive me, but was unable to do so. She pulled me from my chair and placed me on the floor. She then called 911. My wife said the firefighter/paramedics arrived at the house in less than two minutes. I regained consciousness as the firefighters began treating me. They were professional, polite and friendly. They described every action they were taking and why. They did a fantastic job reducing my anxiety and breathing issues while prepping me for transport to the hospital. When I was loaded into the ambulance, a firefighter sat beside me in order to monitor my vital signs and comfort me. After arriving at the emergency room, medical personnel took over. In a short period of time I was told I had experienced a severe anaphylactic shock episode, a life-threatening allergic reaction. I was admitted to the hospital overnight for observation. I was released Sunday morning and fully recovered by Sunday afternoon.

I’m expressing my sincere thanks and gratitude to the fire crew on duty that night at Station 12. They literally saved my life. We don’t often see fire trucks come down my street, but when they do, they draw a crowd. The crowd just stands there watching in amazement as the firefighters quickly and deliberately enter our neighbor’s home, knowing our neighbor is in good hands. On that Saturday, it was my turn to be in good hands.

Timothy R. Bell, Saint Petersburg

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